1 in 4 faces water crisis as countries mark World Water Day

Record 44 landmarks and buildings here join PUB's City Turns Blue initiative

Singapore's skyline turned into a sea of blue to mark World Water Day today, amid urgent calls from global bodies for further steps to tackle shortages that have left almost a quarter of the world's population without access to clean and safe water.

From Saturday to today, a record 44 landmarks and buildings here, including the ArtScience Museum, the Esplanade, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer, will be lit up in blue in the evenings as part of national water agency PUB's City Turns Blue initiative, which started in 2014.

Among them are 10 spots that are taking part for the first time. They include the Singapore Sports Hub, Mount Faber, One Marina Boulevard, Wisma Atria and the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant. Last year, 39 local landmarks were bathed in blue as part of the light-up.

World Water Day is on March 22, a day designated by the United Nations as a reminder that water is a critical resource that should be cherished and protected.

Ahead of the annual event, the UN called for urgent efforts to address the global water crisis.

Around 1.6 billion people - almost a quarter of the world's population - have problems accessing a clean and safe water supply.

UN General Assembly president Volkan Bozkir has called this a global "moral failure".

For Singapore, the event is particularly significant this time, as the Republic rolled out its inter-ministerial Green Plan last month.

The plan cuts across all sectors of society and introduces several new sustainability initiatives that will change the way people here work, study and play by 2030.

Experts said the Green Plan stresses the importance of thinking ahead for future generations, including ensuring that the country's water resources can be sustained for the long term.

Said Professor Rajasekhar Balasubramanian from the National University of Singapore's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering: "The global climate is changing and will continue to change, affecting the water cycle and related issues such as energy production, food security and human health."

This year, PUB's water campaign theme is on climate change. Its key areas of focus include reducing carbon footprint and strengthening coastal defences.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a Facebook post yesterday, urged residents to do their part to conserve water.

"We are doing all we can to maximise every drop of water, but we all have to do our part to #MakeEveryDropCount," he added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2021, with the headline 1 in 4 faces water crisis as countries mark World Water Day. Subscribe